Thursday, July 2, 2015

Give Yourself a Break by Kim Fredrickson - REVIEWED



About the Book:
It's time to start treating yourself the way you treat others
As children we're taught to treat others the way we would like to be treated. But as adults, we often need to turn that old maxim around. We're good at showing compassion to other people--but many of us have trouble showing that same compassion to ourselves. We say things to ourselves we would never say to a friend. And all this negative self-talk can have a devastating effect on our lives and relationships.

Licensed marriage and family therapist Kim Fredrickson wants you to stop beating yourself up. Grounding her advice in Scripture, she offers practical steps, specific exercises, and compassionate words to say in order to build a loving relationship with yourself. Through inspiring stories of transformation, she'll help you learn to show yourself the kind of grace and understanding you offer to others--and to change your relationships, your outlook on life, and your view of yourself in the process.

My Thoughts:
So what does it mean to treat ourselves with kindness?  It is an awareness  and decision to treat oneself as a precious creation of God.  It is a choice to be gentle and understanding rather than to treat oneself with harshness and criticism.”  (p. 59)

Self-Compassion is not a new concept.  Jesus taught mercy and grace to every life He touched, and sent His Holy Spirit to guide us in loving others – including ourselves.  I don’t know about you, but I tend to be my harshest critic and most condemning  judge.  I show little mercy to myself when I sin or make a careless mistake. Kim Fredrickson’s book, Give Yourself a Break isn’t encouraging us to take pity on ourselves.  Rather, she is asking us to consider showing compassion to ourselves and see ourselves through God’s eyes of unconditional love.

She encourages readers that it is NEVER to late to learn self-compassion.  We can change the voices of self-condemnation and judgement to a more compassionate voice of mercy and encouragement.  When we learn to do this – and it is a process through which we must have grace and mercy with ourselves – all of our other relationships reap the benefit.  When we are compassionate to ourselves, we can love others better.  Changing the way we relate to ourselves literally changes all of our relationships!

That is tremendously good news to me!!  I did a lot of highlighting and note taking as I read this book, and I encourage everyone to approach this book thoughtfully and prayerfully.  Learn to speak kindly to yourself, and when it is time to repent and ask God’s forgiveness, or the forgiveness of others, we can receive and offer forgiveness more easily when we see ourselves as God sees us – His redeemed and precious child.

I HIGHLY recommend this book to everyone!  It will literally change the way you think!!  

About the Author:

Kim Fredrickson has been a licensed marriage and family therapist and certified Christian life coach for more than twenty-five years. An adjunct professor, speaker, and author, she loves helping people become equipped spiritually, emotionally, and intellectually with practical skills to live more effective and fulfilling lives. Her website offers visitors helpful articles, encouraging recordings, and additional resources. She has been married to her husband, Dave, for thirty-seven years and they have two grown children. Fredrickson lives in California. Learn more at www.kimfredrickson.com.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Love's Rescue by Christine Johnson - REVIEWED


About the Book:
Can a girl enamored with the adventurous seas ever be content with the tame life of a Southern belle? 
When her mother dies, Elizabeth Benjamin heads home to Key West, determined to transform herself into the perfect Southern belle her parents always wished her to be. But nothing goes according to plan. Her brother resents her, the servants do not obey her, and Rourke O'Malley, the dashing man she vowed to forget, refuses to relinquish his hold on her heart. Worst of all, it becomes painfully obvious that her father is not the man he appears to be.

As family secrets come to light, Elizabeth is faced with a difficult choice: to perform her duty and abandon her dreams, or to leave her life of privilege behind to chase the man her father sees as little better than a pirate.

From the first emotional page, author Christine Johnson throws you into a world of impossible choices, hidden desires, and heart-melting romance in the steamy South.

My Thoughts

But you must realize that a future cannot be founded on broken hearts and deception.”  (p. 231)
Rourke is a very wise man!  No wonder Elizabeth loves him so!  I’m kind of fond of him myself after all he has been through to be with Elizabeth!  Hardship aside, Christine Johnson has written a very classic romance while adding a thread of intrigue that grows and changes until the reader is left rather flabbergasted!  There are a LOT of broken hearts and deception that come to light throughout this novel, and it will keep the pages turning at an increasingly rapid pace.  It becomes so much more than a romance!

I grew to care for this group of characters, and I grew especially fond of Elizabeth’s strength as the novel progressed.  I watched her grow and change from a frightened girl to a very strong woman!  Like I said before, Rourke stole my heart early on!  He may be a Bohemian wrecker (it’s fun to learn about this!) but he is also a man of honor and strong faith.  Elizabeth is blessed to learn the depth of both his strength and faith throughout the novel.


There are some pretty evil characters in the story too.  At one point it seems that everyone is blinded by greed and fear.  I won’t spoil the plot, but suffice it to say the journey becomes pretty dicey before you reach the final pages!  This was an unexpected treasure of a novel, and one I am happy to recommend!

About the Author:
Christine Johnson is the author of several books for Steeple Hill and Love Inspired and has been twice named a finalist for Romance Writers of America's Golden Heart® award. When not writing, she loves to hike and explore God's majestic creation. These days, she and her husband, a Great Lakes ship pilot, split their time between northern Michigan and the Florida Keys.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

No Fear In Love by Andy Braner - REVIEWED


About the Book:
How to love fearlessly--even when we disagree
In an age when we are as connected as we are contentious, an astounding number of religious, cultural, and political polarities do more to divide us than unite us. In fact, Christians are getting the reputation of being "against" just about everything. But is this the best way to bear witness to the love of God before an unbelieving world? Or does it simply serve to push others further and further away from the life-giving power of Jesus?

Perhaps it is time to trade condemnation for compassion.

Story-driven and biblically based, No Fear in Love challenges us to love others the way God loves us--unconditionally, brokenness and all--and to trust that God is truly in control.

My Thoughts:
You see, I’ve become a man not afraid.  I believe the power of the gospel is in the man Jesus.  We may spend a great amount of time working over the processes by which God works on the planet today, but if we just boil it all down to a few simple steps, it’s amazing to watch God work.”  (p. 143)

WOW!  What else can I possibly say?  Andy Braner has written a book that is going to cause a wave of conversation – perhaps and probably some blistering condemnation – about a topic than no believer should ever find questionable or controversial.  Loving other the way God loves us should be simple, right?  Well, when entire religious practices have been built upon fear of others who see the world through a different lens, then it does indeed become not only difficult, but in most instances impossible to genuinely love others.

Andy Braner attended Christian high school…Christian college…seminary….and has established a non-profit for young adults that is changing lives…and he is taking an honest look at what it should look like to love others the way Jesus loved us while He walked the earth in ministry.  No one can say he lacks knowledge, or experience, compassion or wisdom.  In fact, he is very frank in acknowledging that many will probably accuse him of being Universalist.  He is anything BUT!!!

He is a man that is deeply in love with his Savior, and rests completely in the Savior’s love for him.  It is from this place that he CAN love others and have open dialogues with people of different faiths and world views, and when he talks with them, they comment that no one has ever been open to talk with them and allow questions and dialogue that is done in love and without condemnation.

In short, all believers can learn A LOT from Andy Braner’s book, No Fear In Love.  This is a very concise look at a subject that many believers refuse to look at.  And that is what fear looks like.  And fear is not of God. 


Read this prayerfully and with a heart open to hear God’s voice.  He will speak. Your life will be transformed!

About the Author:
Andy Braner is the founder of Ahava Ministries, a nonprofit youth ministry that teaches teens and college students to think about the world through a Jesus paradigm. A popular blogger, he speaks to over 100,000 students, parents, and teachers every year at church, conferences, and personal tours. He has appeared on CBN, FoxNews, and various other media outlets, and lives in Colorado.

Monday, June 29, 2015

A Worthy Pursuit by Karen Witemeyer - REVIEWED



About the Book:
A teacher on the run. A bounty hunter in pursuit. Can two enemies learn to trust each other before they both lose what they hold most dear?

Stone Hammond is the best tracker in Texas. He never comes home empty-handed. So when a wealthy railroad investor hires him to find his abducted granddaughter, Stone eagerly accepts.

Charlotte Atherton, former headmistress of Sullivan's Academy for Exceptional Youths, will do anything to keep her charges safe, especially the orphaned girl entrusted to her care. Charlotte promised Lily's mother she'd keep the girl away from her unscrupulous grandfather, and nothing will stop Charlotte from fulfilling that pledge. Not even the handsome bounty hunter with surprisingly honest eyes who comes looking for them.

When Miss Atherton produces documentation that shows her to be Lily's legal guardian, Stone must reevaluate everything he's been led to believe. Is she villain or victim? 

Then a new danger forces Charlotte to trust the man sent to destroy her. Stone vows to protect what he once sought to tear apart. Besides, he's ready to start a new pursuit: winning Charlotte's heart.

My Thoughts:
The Lord would show her what to do when the time came.”  (p.127)

Charlotte Atherton has to cling to God’s leadership in some pretty amazing ways throughout Karen Witemeyer’s latest novel, A Worthy Pursuit.  This was an extremely fun read to me, because I didn’t peruse the synopsis like I normally do, I just dove into the story.  When Charlotte decided her response to the school’s closing would be to take students “underground” I was amazed at her boldness!  When Stone Hammond crashed into her world, she proved even more amazing!  This lady has some serious trust issues, yet she is bold about facing her fears.  She has her moments of doubt and emotional response, but overall, Charlotte is one of the most inspiring characters I’ve met in fiction recently!

I totally adored, Lily, John and Stephen!  They were the most precious children!  I loved the fact that they were able to live out some of their most adored adventures!  I know it was dangerous, but with Stone Hammond pursuing you, that pretty much took care of any dangerous element!  What’s not to love about Stone, right?


Can you tell I got to know these characters?  This is a really well-told tale, and I was totally absorbed from start to finish!  Surprises, dangerous plot twists….I enjoyed every single one!! I can’t wait to see what Karen Witemeyer comes up with next!  

About the Author:

Winner of the HOLT Medallion and the Carol Award, and a finalist for the RITA and Christy Award, bestselling author Karen Witemeyerwrites historical romance because she believes in giving the world more happily-ever-afters. Karen makes her home in Abilene, Texas, with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at www.karenwitemeyer.com.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Summer's List by Anita Higman - REVIEWED


About the Book:
A dying wish alters the course of a young woman's life.
Life hadn't been easy for Summer Snow. In acts of selflessness-caring for her ailing parents and running her grandmother's bookstore-she had forfeited her youth and dreams for the needs of others. And the only tries she had at love... didn't turn out. She had the bookstore, she had her beloved granny, but she was missing something-or someone.  
Opportunity strikes when Granny sends Summer on an unexpected adventure with one Martin Langtree, a kind but gangly young man from Summer's past. A childhood friendship is rekindled, a romance is sparked, and mysteries are solved in one magical Texas summer. Will Summer strike out on love again, or will things finally go her way?
With lovable characters and surprising twists, Summer's List is a simple delight.
Purchase you copy HERE.
My Thoughts:
You never know what will come into our lives that might change us or rescue us.”  (p. 60)

When Martin spoke these words to Summer, it was kind of prophetic.  He didn’t even know about her list, her Granny’s wishes or any detail other than he was amazed that she had appeared in his life after two decades.  Summer didn’t know the depth of dysfunction within Martin’s family, but she only knew the great love her Granny had for her and was operating out of the strength of that love.

Summer’s List reads a bit like a modern day fairy tale of sorts.  The life circumstances of the characters are both very normal and larger than life.  As Summer moves through her Granny’s list, she witnesses many lives touched, changed, healed and transformed – even her own!  I don’t even think Granny could have imagined how far reaching the result of her list would be!

This is an unusual story in many ways, but it is unusually sweet as well!  Every thread of the story line is cleverly woven together to achieve a very natural ending.  This novel made me forget time and place, and I found myself totally immersed in the story!  I love it when that happens!  And I grew to love Summer and Martin a great deal!  Martin’s two brothers even got to me by the end of the story!  I love it when that happens too – when you begin to care for some of the more unlikeable characters in the story! 
This was a delightful read!  Truly!  Add it to your Summer Reading List!
About the Author:
ANITA HIGMAN Bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She's been a Barnes & Noble "Author of the Month" for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. Please visit her online at www.anitahigman.com.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The Ticket by Debra Jeter - REVIEWED

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Ticket
Firefly Southern Fiction (May 20, 2015)
by
Debra Jeter


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

A Vanderbilt University professor, Debra Coleman Jeter has published fiction and nonfiction in popular magazines, including Working Woman, New Woman, Self, Home Life, Savvy, Christian Woman, and American Baby. Her story, "Recovery," won first prize in a Christian Woman short story competition, and her nonfiction book "Pshaw, It's Me Grandson": Tales of a Young Actor was a finalist in the 2007 USA Book News Awards. She is a co-writer of the screenplay for Jess + Moss, a feature film which premiered in 2011 at the Sundance Film Festival, screened at nearly forty film festivals around the world, and captured several international awards. She lives in Clarksville, Tennessee, with her husband. She is currently working on a novel based on the life of her grandmother, Effie Shultz McClain (1900 to 1985).

ABOUT THE BOOK

Tray Dunaway longs to be part of the popular set at school but, she's growing too fast and her clothes no longer fit. The only person who understands Tray's need for acceptance is her grandmother, but when Tray wears Gram's hand-sewn clothes to school, the kids make fun of her tall, boney appearance. Tray's luck improves when Pee Wee Johnson, a down-and-out friend of her father's, buys two lottery tickets and gives one to Mr. Dunaway as a thank-you for driving him to Hazard, Illinois. When her father's ticket turns out to be the winner, Johnson demands his cut of the proceeds, but Tray's dad refuses. What seems like a stroke of good fortune suddenly becomes a disturbing turn of events as Johnson threatens to cause problems for the family and Tray.








My Thoughts:

We’re fighters….Whether we’re making crops or sales or dress designs; we’re made of the same stuff.  It’s a tough fiber, and it can withstand all the things that weigh us down and make us nearly give up.”  (p. 192)

Tough is a good word to describe the things that Tray Dunaway must face in Debra Coleman Jeter’s novel The Ticket.  At first, I thought this was a young adult novel dealing with typical young adult problems.  Fourteen is a tough age!  Then I realize that Tray’s family is dealing with a lot more than the typical dysfunction of family life.  When the lottery ticket comes into the picture, everything seems to be magnified ten-fold!

The lottery win is dealt with in a totally unexpected way, and Tray must work out her own identity as she is almost simultaneously embraced and rejected by peers with dollar signs in their eyes.  They she deals with the underbelly of her best friend’s family while also dealing with one of the most horrific violations perpetrated by an adult onto a child.  This novel throws some very unexpected and heavy blows to the reader’s heart and mind!

Jeter deals with many universal scenarios that all young people face – body image, crushes, friendships - but she kicks up the reality a notch and makes the reader gasp at the depth of strength and love that can exist in a family – side by side with some pretty brutal circumstances. 


This is a well-written, thought-provoking read.  The tender poignancy at the end…well, just have your tissue ready!  

If you'd like to read the first chapter of The Ticket, go HERE.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A More Christlike God by Bradley Jersak - REVIEWED


About the book: 
A More Christlike God (April 2015)

What is God like? A punishing judge? A doting grandfather? A deadbeat dad? A vengeful warrior?

Believers and atheists alike typically carry and finally reject the toxic images of God in their own hearts and minds. Even the Christian gospel has repeatedly lapsed into a vision of God where the wrathful King must be appeased by his victim Son. How do such good cop/bad cop distortions of the divine arise and come to dominate churches and cultures?

Whether our notions of 'god' are personal projections or inherited traditions, author and theologian Brad Jersak proposes a radical reassessment, arguing for A More Christlike God: a More Beautiful Gospel. If Christ is "the image of the invisible God, the radiance of God's glory and exact representation of God's likeness," what if we conceived of God as completely Christlike---the perfect Incarnation of self-giving, radically forgiving, co-suffering love? What if God has always been and forever will be cruciform (cross-shaped) in his character and actions?

A More Christlike God suggests that such a God would be very good news indeed---a God who Jesus "unwrathed" from dead religion, a Love that is always toward us, and a Grace that pours into this suffering world through willing, human partners.

Purchase you copy HERE.

My Thoughts:
Whenever we teach the beautiful gospel, we remind audiences of two cardinal truths:
1.       God does not change.
2.       God is perfectly revealed in Christ.”  (p. 293)

Bradley Jersak is a bold representative of the gospel.  He challenges every religious spirit and tells them to flee, because The Cross IS the beautiful gospel.  In all of its bloody splendor!  In all of its loving sacrifice.  In its completeness.  The Cross is a beautiful gospel, and we dare not let religion steal that from our hearts and minds!  We should dare to live victorious lives in the security of Christ’s great love for us! 

Jersak wants believers and non-believers alike to take a good hard look at religion – in all of its forms – and then to look at the finished work on the cross.  Honestly, this is a rather academic book, but the truth of the conclusion will rock your world!  There are some seriously weighty questions to be considered at the end of each chapter, but they are questions that need to be considered. 

Personally, I believe many will leave this book half-way through – offended because their religion has been shown faulty in the shadow of the cross.  Religion has stolen something critical that has never left us….the truth of the gospel.  But the reality of taking up our cross daily is too much, so we settle for a lesser religious answer instead of embracing Christ’s invitation to live and love as He did.


This is a convicting book.  A challenging book.  A book you can share with unbelievers to cause them to take a look at the power of the cross.  This is not a book for those afraid to take a hard look at their faith. Rather, it is a book that asks you consider hard truths and embrace Christ’s invitation to follow Him.

About the Author:
Brad Jersak (PhD) is an author and teacher based in Abbotsford, BC. He is on faculty at Westminster Theological Centre (Cheltenham, UK), where he teaches New Testament and Patristics. He also serves as adjunct faculty with St Stephen's University (St. Stephen, NB). He is also the senior editor of CWR (Christianity Without the Religion) Magazine, based in Pasadena, CA.

Find Brad online: websiteFacebookTwitter